The Straits Times
Published on Nov 20, 2012

Britain recognises Syria opposition as fighting rages


DAMASCUS (AFP) - Britain formally recognised a newly-formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people on Tuesday, as the chief of the UN said he feared Syria could become a "regional battleground."

Britain's recognition of the opposition National Coalition came as fighting raged across Syrian flashpoints, including in the northern town of Ras al-Ain where a watchdog said dozens died in clashes between rebels and a Kurdish militia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said meanwhile that Nato member Ankara, a sharp critic of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, would formally ask the alliance for Patriot missiles to protect its border with Syria.

In announcing Britain's recognition of the National Coalition formed in Doha on November 11, Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament he took the decision after he met leaders of the bloc in London on Friday and they assured him that they have backing inside Syria and would respect human rights.